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Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go: Live in London 1990

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 29 / 6 / 2013

Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go: Live in London 1990
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Enjoyable but unexceptional live album from Nils Lofgren, recorded at the Town and Country Club in London in 1990

Nils Lofgren has played quite a part in rock music over the last four decades. While guitar player extraordinaire Lofgren will forever be recognized for his work with Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, he has built up a sizeable following through his own lengthy solo career. While Lofgren’s early musical career with his own band Grin and his work on early Neil Young albums is frequently mentioned , it is almost forgotten that he did work on the first Crazy Horse album from 1971 too. Lofgren wrote two songs on that album, ‘Beggars Day’ and ‘Nobody’, that for many was their introduction to Lofgren’s talents. The fact that Lofgren is only visible on that album’s back cover behind a shop window while the other band members stand in front of the store spread some confusion as to whether or not Lofgren was actually an official band member. With two of the strongest songs on that debut, there really should have been no doubt. Apart from touring and recording with both Young and Springsteen and the four Grin albums, Lofgren has released a number of solo albums but still managed to surprise us all with his stripped-back readings of Young songs, ‘The Loner’, which brought a new dimension to many of Young’s familiar recordings proving, once again, that there’s a reason both Springsteen and Young still highly regard this talented musician. Over the years a good few compilations and live albums have already been issued. As with Lofgren’s solo albums some of these have been excellent, some not so good. The Retroworld label has recently released a live recording of Lofgren’s 1990 concert at London’s Town and Country Club. Live albums can be a challenging listen; if you were at the actual gig or attended one of the shows of that particular tour, then there’s the obvious attraction of owning a part of that experience forever. But, apart from a few notable exceptions, how many times do we actually play a live album over the studio version? How many times is the atmosphere and excitement actually captured on a live album? Of all the live albums that have reached these ears, there is only a handful that are listened to regularly and only one that belongs on the special shelf. (John Mayall’s ‘The Turning Point’, and not because it came from the tour where I attended my first ever gig but because the actual album was a radical departure for Mayall and his band and the playing and choice of songs was excellent). So, considering that there are already Lofgren live albums out there already, it is difficult to understand, Lofgren obsessives and those who attended the gig apart, exactly who Retroworld are trying to capture with this release. As to the actual songs featured, a fair selection of Lofgren’s solo work is given a solid workout and the versions of the often-covered ‘Goin’ Back’, complete with standout keyboard playing from Tommy, Lofgren’s brother, and a rousing version the Beatles ‘Anytime At All’ are actually worth repeated playing. Being a live recording from this period the recording can sound a little muddy at times so, even considering that Lofgren favourites such as ‘Keith Don’t Go’ are performed perfectly (given that E Street band mate Max M Weinberg is on drums and guitarist Larry Cragg and Ronnie Newmyer on bass were on excellent form that night that’s really no surprise) the temptation is still there to return to the studio versions. Lofgren’s guitar playing needs no recommendation from me. Anyone who has seen Lofgren on stage at any time during the last four decades will know that here is an exceptional musician and an artist who knows how to put on a show, and there are many moments where Lofgren conjures magic out of his guitar during this album. Where Lofgren, not only on this concert but also over most of his work, isn’t given the recognition he is due is in his vocals. Often described as wavering, weedy and light, none of which apply when he attacks songs such as ‘Rock and Roll Crook’ on this album, Lofgren has a distinctive voice that is suited both to rock songs and his more tender moments. While his guitar talents are always being praised, Lofgren’s at times remarkable vocals are always ignored, and if this album has a purpose it’s surely to prove that even in a live setting Lofgren’s vocals are not only unique but he’s surely one of the most expressive vocalists of his generation. While it’s a perfectly acceptable live album and includes some of Lofgren’s most well known songs ('Secrets in the Streets', a vocally superb 'Shine Silently', 'No Mercy', a storming 'I Came to Dance') it has to be said that the studio versions still win. If you were one of the 2,000 at the Town and Country Club that night in 1990 or had seen Lofgren in concert that year, then you should waste no time in tracking down a copy of this CD but for most of us it’s those studio albums that still do it.

Track Listing:-
1 Secrets in the Street (Live)
2 Keith Don't Go (Live)
3 Goin' Back (Live)
4 Rock and Roll Crook (Live)
5 Moon Tears (Live)
6 The Sun Hasn't Set (On This Boy Yet) [Live]
7 Anytime at All (Live)
8 No Mercy (Live)
9 Shine Silently (Live)
10 See What Love Can Do? (Live)
11 I Came to Dance (Live)

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